Michael Andretti wants to make a full-time return to the top of sports car racing and has targeted IMSA’s 2023 LMDh formula as the opportunity to make it happen.
“Yes, we’re looking at it,” the owner of Andretti Autosport told RACER. “We have a couple of conversations going right now with a couple of manufacturers. We’d love to do it, so we’re hoping we can get a manufacturer behind us.”
The former factory Acura LMP2 American Le Mans Series entrant, and current IMSA Prototype Challenge LMP3 team owner, could find himself in a coveted position as the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship marches towards its new LMDh hybrid prototype category.
With Acura, Audi, and Porsche committed so far, and the likes of BMW, Ford, General Motors, and other major automotive brands taking serious looks at LMDh, a shortage of available, championship-caliber teams could lead some brands to search the NTT IndyCar Series for partners to lead their factory programs.
It was the same model used by Acura in the ALMS from 2007-2008 as Andretti Green Racing and Fernandez Racing were signed to campaign its prototypes; Team Penske also pulled ALMS and IndyCar double-duty from 2005-2008 on behalf of Porsche in LMP2.
At present, most of the teams with manufacturer ties in IMSA DPi class are expected to continue representing those brands when DPi is replaced, leaving LMDh newcomers to explore relationships with teams outside of DPi, or IMSA altogether, which have experience fielding factory efforts.
Within the current paddock, Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing are aligned with Acura. Action Express Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, and JDC-Miller Motorsports are connected to Cadillac, leaving Multimatic Motorsports, which runs the outgoing Mazda DPi efforts, as one of few North American operations with a factory LMDh vacancy to fill.
Andretti is already among the most prolific entrants in the sport today, with teams in IndyCar (Honda), Indy Lights, Formula E (BMW), Prototype Challenge, Australian Supercars (Holden), Extreme E and the newly-announced partnership with Michel Jourdain in Mexico’s Super Copa.